Dress up your holiday table with this smooth, rich gluten free pumpkin cheesecake. It's made with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, a pumpkin cookie crust, and covered in rich chocolate.
Why is this the best gf pumpkin cheesecake?
Well, for one, I've simplified the recipe but still kept all of that fabulous flavor. When I first made this cheesecake, back in 2011, it had chocolate swirls. Sure, they were pretty, but they complicated the recipe unnecessarily. Baking a proper pumpkin cheesecake can seem intimidating enough without fussy extras.
And it tastes divine. It screams fall and holidays and decadence. This gluten free pumpkin cheesecake combines pumpkin and pumpkin spice with chocolate, molasses, and tangy cream cheese, giving you the best gluten free cheesecake you could wish for.
I've kept the recipe as simple as I can, too, so you'll be able to make it again and again. Which you will. Because it's that good.
Tips on how to make gluten free pumpkin cheesecake
Baking a perfect gluten free cheesecake can seem like an impossible task. But, with a little know-how, it's easier than you think. Follow these tips and you'll be turning out beautiful gluten free pumpkin cheesecakes, and just about any other gluten free cheesecake that you put your mind to.
Use a springform pan
If you want to unmold a proper cheesecake, you'll need a springform pan. I have bought many springform pans over the years, and this Cuisinart nonstick springform pan really performs. Nothing sticks to it so it unmolds quickly and easily without any greasing. Plus, it doesn't leak, and I've mistreated it by slicing on the base with a knife, and there isn't a scratch on it.
If you don't want to turn it out, you can of course make this in a 9-inch deep dish cake pan. Not everything has to be picture-perfect!
Experiment with the base
You don't have to use gluten free graham crackers, although of course you can. But you can experiment a bit, too, to get your absolute favorite flavor and texture gluten free cheesecake crust.
I have many recipes for crispy cookies here on the blog. They each have their individual charms when it comes to turning into crumbs for a gluten free cheesecake crust. I have even used crispy chocolate chip cookies as a cheesecake crust (and recommend them highly).
We had just made pumpkin snickerdoodles, and I had a few dozen in my freezer. They're a chewy cookie. So I decided to try turning them into crumbs in my miniature food processor (love. that. thing.). And the results speak for themselves. You can use chewy cookies for crumbs! And I think you should.
Can you use normal gluten free flour to make this gluten free pumpkin cheesecake?
Yes, I use a normal all-purpose gluten free flour. You can either make your own gluten free flour blend or use one of my recommended packaged gluten free flour blends like Better Batter or Cup4Cup. The perfect gluten free cheesecake doesn't need a specialty flour blend, just a delicious crust and creamy pumpkin cheesecake filling.
I will say, however, that the brand you choose shouldn't be excessively starchy, and it should be super fine, so that it doesn't give your cheesecake a grainy texture.
Don't open the oven during baking
If you want your gluten free pumpkin cheesecake to bake evenly and you don't want it to crack, don't open the oven during baking just to see how it's getting on.
Rapid temperature changes – like you letting all the hot air out of the oven because you just can't contain your excitement destabilizes the mixture and causes it to crack. So resist the urge to open the oven door until the baking time is up.
Crack the oven door after baking
Whatever type of gluten free cheesecake you're cooking, employ this top tip! Once your gluten free pumpkin cheesecake has finished baking, turn the oven off and crack the door a little (wedge it open a little with a heat-safe utensil or pot if necessary).
Leave the cheesecake inside for around 30 minutes. This lets the temperature lower gradually. You already know that baked cheesecakes don't like rapid temperature changes, so letting it cool like this helps to prevent cracking.
Keep it jiggly
Don't overbake your cheesecake! Just like the conventional type, gluten free cheesecake is still soft and jiggly in the middle when it's fully cooked. The outside will be set, but the middle will jiggle a bit in a controlled way when you move the pan from side to side. That's normal. It's baked at this point, so turn the oven off and let it cool.
The gluten free pumpkin cheesecake will continue to cook and will set more as it cools. If you try to keep it baking in the oven until the whole thing has set, you'll end up with an overcooked cheesecake with a bitter taste and unpleasant texture.
Let it cool completely
Before you attempt to decorate or cut your cheesecake, let it cool completely. After it's rested in the oven, take it out and let it continue to cool on your countertop until it reaches room temperature. At this point, you can refrigerate it to set it fully.
Use a hot, wet knife for clean slices
Once your gluten free pumpkin cheesecake is ready to serve, you can get beautifully clean, crisp slices by letting your knife heat up in how water, then making your slice. Rewarm and heat your knife for a few seconds between each slice.
How to bake this gf pumpkin cheesecake without any cracks
One more detail about baking this lovely pumpkin cheesecake: you can bake it in a water bath for the most beautiful top, without a crack in sight. You can also place a warm water bath in a separate casserole or baking dish in the oven on a lower rack, as well. But you really don't have to.
A water bath, with the cheesecake sitting in it or sitting above it, helps the cheesecake to bake at a very consistent temperature, gently. Like we discussed, sudden changes in baking temperature causes cracks in your cheesecake.
But the cracks taste just the same as the smooth pieces. If you needed permission to bake with reckless abandon, cracks and all, you just got it. Don't let anything stop you from baking this deliciously rich gluten free pumpkin cheesecake. Go forth and bake!
How to store this gluten free pumpkin cheesecake
Store this gluten free pumpkin cheesecake in an airtight container, or at least covered, in the refrigerator for up to five days. According to the USDA, you can keep it for up to seven days in the fridge, but I think it's past its best after day five.
Ingredients and substitutions
There aren't really too many substitutions you can make for this gluten free pumpkin cheesecake. It's a baked cheesecake, so you need the cream cheese and eggs in the mix to get that smooth, set texture and taste.
Egg-Free gluten free cheesecake
You can't switch the eggs for a chia egg or a fax egg because they'll leave a grainy texture behind. However, you could, potentially, use aquafaba as an egg replacer.
Aquafaba behaves similarly to egg and, because it's essentially the water from canned chickpeas, it won't leave the cheesecake batter grainy. But I've never tried making an egg-free gluten free cheesecake, so I can't promise it'll work.
Dairy free gluten free cheesecake
Now, I've never made this recipe dairy free, but you could, theoretically manage it if you switched the cream cheese for non-dairy cream cheese, the butter for a block of non-dairy butter, and the heavy whipping cream for something like coconut whipping cream.
In theory, all of these vegan items behave like their dairy counterparts, but I've never tried it since I've never found a dairy free cream cheese that tastes quite right to me. So if you do attempt a dairy free or vegan version (if you also switch out the eggs), please let me know how it goes!
Switching up the cheesecake crust
As I mentioned earlier, this gluten free pumpkin cheesecake work just as well with almost any type of cookie crumb as it does with gluten free graham crackers. If you like the idea of use graham cracker crumbs but still want to liven it up a bit, add some pecans or walnuts to give you a nuttier graham cracker crust.
If you want to steer clear of graham cracker crumbs, use whichever gluten free cookies take your fancy. I was delighted with the chewy cookies I turned into a crust for this gluten free cheesecake. Crispy or chewy, you can't go wrong.
Can you make a gluten free cheesecake without using eggs?
In theory, yes, you can make this gluten free cheesecake recipe without using eggs. However, you need to choose your egg replacer carefully, as most will alter the texture of the cheesecake batter or won't hold the structure as well as actual eggs. That's why most recipes for egg free cheesecake are no-bake cheesecakes.
Can you make a gluten free vegan cheesecake?
Theoretically, yes, you could make a gluten free vegan cheesecake. You'd need vegan block butter, coconut cream for whipping, and non-dairy cream cheese to make this cheesecake gluten free and vegan. But, of course, you'd need to use an egg replacer, which I'm just not very optimistic about.
Can you use real pumpkin in this gluten free cheesecake recipe?
Yes, you can use real pumpkin puree. Although the high-quality canned stuff is just pure pumpkin too, you can absolutely make your own.
You just cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds (you can roast those separately as a yummy snack), pierce the skin a few times with a fork and bake, face down, on a lined baking sheet at about 375°F. Bake in the oven until the flesh is tender, then scoop out the flesh and puree it. If your puree seems at all watery, drain off the excess liquid first.
Can you make individual pumpkin cheesecakes?
Yes, you can make this strong contender for the best gluten free cheesecake ever into individual cheese cakes. The only difference is that you'd have to cut the baking time by quite a lot. You'd assemble the ingredients into single-serve ramekins and then bake at the same temperature as the larger cheesecake, but you'd have to keep a close eye and potentially cut the baking time in half or less.
Easy Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
For the crust
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) gluten free crunchy cookie crumbs like our gluten free graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter melted
For the cheesecake filling
- 24 ounces (3 8-ounce packages) packaged (block) cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (18 g) all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; click thru for appropriate blends)
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (21 g) unsulphured molasses
- 3 (150 g (weighed out of shell)) eggs at room temperature, beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (225 g) pure canned pumpkin puree
- 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
For the (optional) chocolate topping
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
- ¼ cup (2 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease well a 9-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom tightly with aluminum foil. Set out a roasting pan large enough to fit the springform pan.
Make the crust.
- In a large bowl, place the cookie crumbs and melted butter and mix until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the prepared pan. Set the pan aside.
Make the filling.
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the cream cheese and flour, and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the sugar and the molasses, and beat until well-combined.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, and mix just until smooth. The eggs should not be overbeaten.
- Scrape the filling out of the bowl and on top of the crust in the prepared pan. Spread into an even layer.
Bake the cheesecake.
- Place the cheesecake in the center of the roasting pan and place it on the center rack of the preheated oven.
- Fill the roasting pan with hot water until the water reaches about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
- Close the oven door, and bake for about an hour, or until most of the cake is set, but the center is still somewhat loose when shaken from side to side.
- Turn off the oven, crack the oven door a bit, leaving the cake inside. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and chill until ready to serve (at least 2 hours). Unmold the chilled cake and loosen the bottom from the pan. Transfer carefully to a serving platter.
For the optional topping.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a small, heat-safe bowl. Place the heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes until the chocolate begins to melt, then stir until melted and smooth.
- Pour over the entire cake or individual slices.
- Slice with a hot, wet knife for clean slices. For even cleaner slices, freeze the cake a bit before slicing.